Brathwaite in, Holder out as Windies captain
ST. JOHN’S – In a widely expected move, Cricket West Indies (CWI) has retained Kraigg Brathwaite and removed fellow Wanderers and Barbados Pride teammate Jason Holder from the post of West Indies Test captain for the international home series against Sri Lanka.
Brathwaite has led the Windies in seven Tests while deputising for Holder, including leading a severely depleted Test squad to a highly-unexpected 2-0 sweep over hosts Bangladesh this past January.
“It is a huge honour to be given the captaincy of the West Indies Test team,” Brathwaite said in a CWI media release.
“I feel extremely proud and humbled that the board and selectors have given me the opportunity and responsibility to lead the team.
“The recent Test series win in Bangladesh was a fantastic achievement and I’m really looking forward to the upcoming home series against Sri Lanka and I’m excited about what I believe this team can achieve in the future.”
Brathwaite’s ascension to the position is a dramatic turnaround for the opener, coming at the tail-end of a tumultuous year in his career.
He lost his central contract with CWI, estimated to be worth around BB $300,000, and was removed from the post of vice-captain to Holder and replaced by Pride teammate Roston Chase for the Tour of New Zealand last December because the selectors felt he needed to regain his form and confidence at the top of the batting order.
Brathwaite has scored 380 runs in 14 innings at an average of 27.14 – including three half-centuries – since the Tour of England last year, which marked the return of international matches following a global suspension of play because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But his leadership qualities seemed to rise to the surface during the Tour of Bangladesh and led former West Indies pacer Ian Bishop, who was part of the television commentary panel for the series, and head coach Phil Simmons to hail his captaincy.
“We all believe that Kraigg is the right man to lead our Test side at this point in time and I’m delighted that he has accepted the role,” chairman of the West Indies selection panel Roger Harper said.
“In the recent Test series against Bangladesh, Kraigg was able to motivate his players to play to a very high level and create the culture we are looking to establish where the team showed a collective determination to fight and a real hunger for success.”
Holder, the youngest player to hold the position of West Indies Test captain at the age of 23, led the Caribbean side in 37 Tests – the fifth highest – behind Clive Lloyd (74), Sir Vivian Richards (50), Brian Lara (47) and Sir Garfield Sobers (39).
Under Holder’s leadership over the past six years, the Windies won 11 matches – including a memorable 2-1 home series victory over England three years ago in the Caribbean – and lost 21.
It was widely expected that Holder, currently the No.1 Test all-rounder in the World, was going to lose the captaincy, after he skipped the Tour of Bangladesh this past January, citing COVID-19 health and safety concerns, and general fatigue, and Brathwaite led the side to victory.
Holder’s reign as Windies captain had been dogged by complaints of ultra-defensive tactics and a lack of situational awareness by many pundits and fans.
Former West Indies pacer Sir Andy Roberts led the chorus of calls for his removal from the position following the ill-starred Tour of New Zealand, when the Caribbean side were soundly swept by the hosts 2-0.
“On behalf of CWI, I would like to thank Jason for all he has given to the game in the region while serving as captain of our Test team,” CWI director of cricket, Jimmy Adams said.
“Throughout his 5 ½-year tenure, he has led with dignity while always upholding the highest values of the sport. As the world’s leading Test all-rounder, we all believe that Jason still has a tremendous role to play in West Indies Test cricket for many years to come.”
CWI announced the squad for the first Test against Sri Lanka, starting on March 29 at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, will be announced on Friday.